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Is My Cat Overweight?
As we humans get larger, our cats do too. The figures are nothing to scoff at: 50 percent of today’s cats are overweight .
“Obesity in cats is mirroring obesity in people and it’s due to too much food and not enough exercise,” says Dr. Karyn Collier, DVM, Chief Medical Officer at Saint Francis Veterinary Centre for Animal Physical Therapy in Woolwich Township, N.J.
“We humans enjoy food so we want to see the same with our cats. We’re killing them with kindness. If cats don’t dive in [to their food] we add things like gravy or some chicken or beef just to see our cat eat. It may be that the cat just isn’t hungry right then.”
An overweight cat is no laughing matter. Too many pounds can cause problems ranging from heart disease to diabetes and arthritis.
Fortunately, making a few simple changes to your cat’s food and lifestyle can help them to shed some pounds. Read on for some suggestions…
1. Turn to Scientific Methods
Check out the tips for weight assessment using tools such as the Healthy Weight Protocol. This is a scientific method for determining a cat’s ideal weight. Your vet will take four measurements of your cat, which are then used to assess their body fat index through a computer programme. Your vet can then tell you exactly how overweight your cat is and their ideal weight.
2. Ask Your Vet
When you take your cat for an annual checkup, ask your veterinarian to do a body condition score so you know how your cat is doing and how much weight they need to lose, if any.
You can also search for online tools that provide pictures showing how overweight and underweight cats look like and what an ideal body should look like.
3. Use Your Eyes — and Hands
Check out your cat yourself: “You should be able to feel their ribs without an excessive amount of fat on them,” says Dr. Collier. “You should also be able to count them.”
Looking from above, your cat’s chest should be wider and the flank — the area between the ribs and the pelvis — should be indented. If you are standing to the side of the cat, the chest should tuck up as it goes into the abdomen.
“If you are having a hard time finding the ribs and you really have to press, your cat is getting heavy,” says Dr. Collier. “If you’re starting to lose the indentation on the waist and the tuck up to the abdomen, your cat is overweight.”